My First Year – A Celebration of feeling Alive

~Nashville a.k.a Lost in a New City~

I so clearly remember the day I moved to Nashville. It seems like an eternity ago.

I moved into my small, Antioch, Tennessee apartment on July 1st, 2017 and much to my surprise, there were no lights aside from one bulb in the kitchen and one in the bathroom – basically the living room and bedrooms didn’t have lights. Not only did they not have lights, there were LITERALLY NO LIGHT FIXTURES.

Okay – (If you just want to listen to the song and skip story time, click here)

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Skyline of downtown Nashville, TN taken on my first day walking to work.

For the first week of my life in Nashville, long before I had any income to purchase a second light fixture, I shlepped that tiny metal desk lamp around the apartment each night on an extension cable like a child with a security blanket. I needed it in order to feel secure because I damn well didn’t feel comfortable living in a place outside of my hometown.

But fear and anxiety be damned, I powered through. I spent a lot of time on the deck of my second-story apartment when I first moved to Nashville. Mostly just because there was LIGHT.

I would take an occasional drive into the city just to look around with hopes of finding somewhere I could camp out with my laptop and use free Wi-Fi for a while – I needed something to connect me to the rest of the world because the isolation was painfully real.

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Sitting at Centennial Park in Nashville, TN

I would take walks around parks and often just sit and look at the nature around me. It was comforting to have no obligations; it was also stressful having no obligations because I’m kind of a workaholic. But nonetheless, I walked and I sat and relaxed.

However, regardless of where I went, each day ended in the same place, in the same way.

That sad, mildew smelling, lightless apartment without a bed, television, or internet, was oddly inspiring. I was literally sleeping on the floor of an apartment without lights.

My first upgrade came when I was able to purchase patio lights on an extension cable that I could string could my bedroom. Pictured above you can see the sad little desk lamp I had been taking around room to room at night and the one standing lamp that illuminated my bedroom in the interim.

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The infamous lightless room with strung up patio lights while I was still sleeping on the floor.

I think back to it now that ~this~ might have been rock bottom (I mean I was literally sleeping on the ground) but I was more excited about my situation than I’d been about anything else in my life because for the first time I was doing something that was just for me.

~work work work work work~

In my 13 months in Nashville, I have applied for six jobs, offered five, and worked at four.

“You’re going to wait tables. I know we said that we would train you as a barista, but you’re going to wait tables instead”.

FIRST: I quit my first job just ten days after starting. I showed up for my first day, a 5:30am shift, and no one was there. THEY FORGOT THEY HIRED ME. When the morning shift lead arrived, they had absolutely no clue who I was or what I was there to do – their management team had neglected to fill out any of the paperwork or inform anyone that I would be starting that day. My reasoning behind why I quit this so quickly need not be stated, but…it was not a good fit for me.

SECOND: My second job was a night shift behind the front desk at a hostel in downtown Nashville. This suited my personality a bit better. It was low profile, we could drink beer at work, we hosted a weekly open mic (my first public performance in Nashville), and I became best friends with my boss – yes, we’re still friends and we now work together again.

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Actual photo of me pretending my first three jobs were going well.

But it was a night shift, it was completely impossible to get time off because they were so short staffed, I could hardly pay my bills, and worst of all IT WAS A NIGHT SHIFT. I couldn’t perform anywhere because I worked every damn night. I was “Aaron Schilb: Front Desk Attendant, Security Guard, Travel Agent, Mystery Substance Cleaner, Laundry Folder, and Crowd Controller”.

The silver lining is that this is the job that helped me get settled in Nashville.

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“Old Hickory” is the most confusing highway in the metro Nashville area with FOUR entirely separate sections.

I learned my way around downtown and how to navigate our ridiculous highway system. I also learned where to get sushi at 3am when all of the bars close for the night. Thank goodness for Nashville’s 24-hour diner.

THIRD: My third job was a total disaster: a 4am-12pm bakery shift and while, yes, I hated the job, it enabled me to perform at night. So for that, I am thankful that the bakery allowed me to start performing.

FOURTH: I currently work as a barista at a tea shop with two of my best friends. I can work every day and perform every night – life’s never been better.

~ My Only Entertainment was My Guitar ~

I spent most of my first month sitting on the floor of my apartment each morning (because I didn’t have a desk or a couch) writing music and listening to podcasts.

The first song I wrote after moving was called Alive. It’s a simple love song explaining how lost and unhappy I was prior to my relocation to Tennessee – I definitely saw some of my darkest days while I was in college.

“I was needing something new. I was looking for a change

But then you shed a little bit of light onto my darkest days

I feel so alive”

Alive is one of the most personal songs I’ve written in that I very openly state that I was feeling lost, fearful and depressed about a life that I felt was going nowhere, but for some  reason, it was as simple as doing something that made ME happy.

Moving to Nashville, Tennessee was the first time in my life I made a decision that my family did not approve of and it was the first time in my life that I felt like I was alive. Living for the present was and is possible.

In my first year I have written dozens of songs, some with friends and some by myself. I’ve played over a hundred live performances on Nashville stages. I have met some of the nicest human beings and made many friends in all walks of life. I have explored and gotten lost.

~The Harsh Reality of Life as a Musician~

Now don’t get me wrong or let my cheery disposition mislead you. Living here is really freaking hard. Sometimes I don’t know if I’ll be able to pay my rent. I have literally eaten cold baked beans out of the can because my microwave was broken.

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Meal alternative also known as “coffee”.

I also learned that coffee is a meal alternative (not necessarily a healthy alternative, but definitely an alternative).

We learn a lot about ourselves and what we’re capable of during our most desperate times – we also learn what we’re willing to do to get by.

Taking multiple jobs, working nights, weekends, holidays, and living vicariously through our friends on social media because we couldn’t afford to go out.

It’s comforting though, seeing all of us creative types struggling together to accomplish similar goals of success as a career musician. We band together (sometimes literally, LOL band) to get through the day. So even when I was feeling living my most lonesome days, I was never really alone.

~ In Conclusion, I love my life ~

Regardless of how much I have worked my ass off in this city, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Living in Nashville, Tennessee has made me the happiest I’ve ever been. Living my life for me has made me the happiest I’ve ever been.

So while we all go through (seemingly endless) patches of darkness, there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel. There will always be a future where we can feel alive.

“Alive” is a tribute to my new life and my new city. It will be released on August 25th across platforms. Below you can find clickable links to your platform of choice so you can stream, purchase, and save to playlists! Thank you for being a part of this journey with me, everyone.

Spotify | Apple Music | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

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